SNOW IS CLEARED; TIOGA ROAD OPENS MONDAY
The scenic road is reopening a month earlier than last year, due to less snow falling this winter in the Sierra Nevada
Tioga Road, the fabled route through Yosemite National Park’s scenic high country and the highest- elevation road in California’s state highway system, will reopen to vehicles Monday.
The road, which closes every winter due to deep snow, has been closed since November. It will open to all vehicle traffic at 9 a.m., park officials announced.
The road’s opening is something of an annual rite of spring, and is an indication of how much snow the Sierra Nevada received during the winter. Last year, after record snow and rain that
broke California’s five-year drought, the Tioga Road didn’t re- open until June 29. The average opening date from 1996 to 2015 was May 26.
All campgrounds along Tioga Road remain closed. Park officials said Thursday that there is no anticipated opening date for the Tuolumne Meadows store and the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center. There is no gasoline available along Tioga Road. The closest gas station is located at Crane Flat. For more information about park road conditions, motorists can call 209-3720200 or go to https://www. nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/ conditions.htm.
One of the marquee drives in America’s national park system, the winding, two-lane road bisects Yosemite’s alpine center, passing through meadows and forests of lodgepole pine and juniper. It runs 46 miles from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass, where it crests at 9,945 feet.
The route for centuries was a footpath for Indians, upgraded to a mining road in 1883 during a brief silver boom, and then a private toll road that charged $2 per horse and rider.
It became public and part of the park in 1915 when San Francisco native Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, bought it for $15,000 with his own money and donations from the Sierra Club and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce. He sold it to Congress that year for $10, hop- ing to bring more tourists into the park.
Yosemite’s Glacier Point Road re- opened to vehicles on April 28. Every year, crewswith snowplows clear each of the two roads, facing snow drifts that can be 20 feet deep and avalanche risks. In 1995, Yosemite employee BarryHance, 43, was killed when an avalanche on Tioga Road smashed into the snow-removal machine he was driving.
In his memory, the park presents the Barry Hance Award every year to the park employee who best demonstrates “a positive attitude, a concern for fellow employees, a willingness to work with other divisions in the park, getting the job done, and a love for Yosemite National Park.”
Cars line up along Tioga Road waiting for it to open after an early snow in northern Yosemite National Park in 2017.
Snowfell in the Sierra Nevada on the last day of summer, giving the towering mountain range shared by California and Nevada a wintry look in September and making travel hazardous.
Tourists drive along Tioga Road at Olmsted Point in Yosemite.